If you know me, you know I’m a planner. It’s in my nature, it runs through my veins, it’s part of me. I plan.

Even if you didn’t know that I’m a planner, I’m sure you know that I’m also trying to be in control. I don’t do well with spontaneity, I’m not a go-with-the-flow kind of person, and I don’t let other people plan.

So I’m sure that it will come as a surprise to you that I let Chase plan our entire Valentine’s Day date night.

But, of course, as a planner, I still had a plan in my head of exactly how I wanted the night to go. I expected him to be standing in the Kresge lobby with a dozen roses in hand and his dress clothes on, ready to take me to dinner under his reservations at Bella Notte in Lexington, where we would share a spaghetti for two in the candlelight followed by cheesecake for me and something chocolatey for him, which he would of course let me taste.

Imagine my disappointment when he called Bella Notte to make a reservation only to find out they were full. Not only had I given up control, but I also wasn’t going to get the perfect evening I had planned. When he told me he had made reservations somewhere else, I was absolutely positive that I would never let him plan another date night ever again. (I also overreact a tad…) I swallowed my disappointment and told Chase that anywhere we went would be perfect as long as I was with him. And as I convinced him, I also convinced myself.

I spent the next two weeks reminding myself that it really didn’t matter where we went, and that it really would be perfect no matter what. And I think I almost believed it.

And then that Friday came, and all day I was smiling and skipping from class to class and bragging to everyone that my boyfriend would be there in 6 hours. 4 hours. 2 hours! 30 minutes!!! I rushed to my room and got ready, finding the perfect shoes to go with my perfect dress and perfecting my makeup and finding the perfect purse and the perfect jacket.

And as I worried about making the night perfect, I kept Chase waiting in the lobby for about 20 minutes. I spent so much time and effort making myself look a little better that I neglected the love of my life, the whole reason I had been excited all day, all week, all month.

I finally finished up and went downstairs to find my handsome boyfriend waiting for me, holding a single red rose bouquet in his hands. We were both completely in awe that the moment had finally come, and we were actually together again. In that moment, I didn’t care how many flowers he had brought me, or if his tie matched my dress, or if he had made reservations for dinner. I was just thrilled to see him, to hold him, to finally be with him.

So I tied his tie, ran my flowers up to my room, and left with him for dinner. We went to Paisano’s, this tiny hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant whose head chef is from Afghanistan and whose waiter was more awkward that Jessica Day and Jenna Hamilton combined. We ate heart-shaped bread and tiny salads and I even got my spaghetti. And we didn’t order dessert, so I understood that I wouldn’t get my cheesecake, and I wouldn’t get a bite of Chase’s hypothetical dessert, either. And I was completely ok with that.

My night met nearly none of my expectations. Instead of a dozen roses, I got a single rose, and that single rose means more to me than any dozen ever would. That single rose is sitting in my window sill for all of Wilmore to see how simply beautiful our love is. Instead of Chase standing ready to go in the lobby, I had to tie his tie for him. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Instead of a large, loud, fancy, public restaurant, Chase took me to a small, quiet, homey, romantic one. Instead of sharing my spaghetti and being cute and romantic, I got to eat my own dang spaghetti. And I still have left-overs in the fridge! And instead of cheesecake and chocolate at the restaurant, Chase surprised me with a trail of notes saying why he loves me, which led to a homemade cheesecake all for me.

As it turns out, perfect is just a relative concept. There is no single perfect date, or one way to have a perfect Valentine’s Day. I can plan all I want, but even my expectations will never be perfect.

Because in life, the reality is so much more perfect than my plans will ever be.

Thank you, Chase, for a perfect evening.

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